Advocates are calling for the creation of a 50-bed cold weather shelter to be operated in Prince Albert.

The YWCA and the River Bank Development Corporation estimate homelessness and living rough in the City are on the rise.

“We’re seeing things here that we haven’t seen before with shopping carts, with people kept in entrances, with more encampments, with big groups of people around businesses, and all that sort of thing,” said Brian Howell of the River Bank Development Corporation.

Howell explained that a recent Point-In-Time count of the living situation indicates that people without stable housing is rising from 26 people to 57.

“As we head into winter, we do have a situation that is different from what really we faced in the past few years,” explained Howell.

While there are organizations within Prince Albert which operate shelters and provide services, the concern is the demand has outweighed community capacity.

“We do operate a couple of 24 hour shelters for adult woman and also women with children and youth. So there are those options available,” Donna Brooks of the YWCA said. “But we have struggled for as long as I remember to have a sustainable men’s shelter in a sustainable, overnight shelter for those individuals that don’t fit within the current shelters that we do operate.”

Howell suspects several factors are at play as to why Prince Albert is struggling to address its homeless needs. Migration from other northern and rural municipalities is increasing the population. Howell said crystal meth and other substance abuse problems is impacting some people’s ability to maintain housing.

The main concern for Howell and Brooks is that if capacity is not achieved, the community may see homeless people dying this winter.

A shelter operating at the exhibition site is no longer an option, with advocates seeking a long-term solution.

Its estimated that the operation of the shelter for six and a half months would cost $500,000

“Everyone is well aware of the situation, the senior levels of government, including the province and the feds and the city are all up to date on this, and everyone is trying to collaborate and work together to really come up with a solution for this winter,” Howell explained.